After long months of waiting, AMD finally presented its FidelityFX Super Resolution technology competing with Nvidia DLSS at Computex. A more open technology that has yet to prove itself.
It is an understatement to say that this technology was expected. For several months, Nvidia has maintained a clear superiority over AMD thanks in particular to its Nvidia DLSS technology which works miracles. This image enhancement technique enables Nvidia cards to activate very demanding graphics effects such as ray tracing with very little impact on performance. Image reconstruction has established itself as a standard in video games in a few years: we calculate a game image in low definition (720p or 1080p) then we artificially improve it in 4K.
It was therefore necessary that AMD react to remain competitive and as often with the brand, this requires a solution much more open to the rest of the industry. Faced with an excellent proprietary product, the right solution is often to bet on the industrial standard and on this point, AMD can count on its integration into the game consoles of Sony and Nintendo in particular. AMD is even stronger by announcing compatibility with Nvidia’s GeForces for its new FidelityFX Super Resolution, or FSR, technology.
Questions to ask yourself about this technology
Does FidelityFX Super Resolution require effort from game developers?
Yes, like DLSS, game developers need to specifically integrate how FSR works into their codes. This means that the compatible games will be few in number at the start and that AMD will have to convince the developers to integrate FSR in their titles. On this point, Nvidia has a head start and it is easy to understand why the firm was delighted to have integrated DLSS directly into Unreal Engine and Unity, the two most popular game engines on the market.
We can expect a new battle in the coming months between AMD and Nvidia to convince developers to integrate each other’s technology.
What is the performance gain announced?
As for DLSS, AMD offers several operating modes for FSR ranging from “ultra quality” to “performance” depending on whether you want to focus on image quality for FPS.
AMD promises very impressive performance gains. So GodFall with the graphics settings at maximum would go from 49 FPS without the FSR to 150 FPS with the FSR in performance mode. A threefold increase in the fluidity of the game. Obviously, this is a game developed in partnership with AMD and it will be necessary to measure by ourselves these gains on the variety of compatible products and games to discover the real gains.
Does FSR require special hardware like DLSS?
No. To function, the DLSS uses the “Tensor Cores” present on the GeForces of Nvidia which limits the compatibility of the technology to the RTX graphics cards having these Tensor Cores. Limiting it to dedicated hardware makes it possible to limit the performance cost of image enhancement to the extreme. You have to calculate the new image somewhere and Nvidia’s solution allows you to do it without too much impact.
This is not the case with AMD which has chosen, it would seem, a software technique. Details on AMD’s solution are still lacking, but the wide hardware compatibility suggests that the conditions are not very demanding. This means that the image enhancement quality and the performance cost of this technology will have to be measured.
What graphics cards are AMD FSR compatible?
This is undoubtedly the strong point of AMD FSR: the wide hardware compatibility of the technology. AMD has thus confirmed that all of its products AMD Radeon RX 6000, RX 5000, RX 500, RX Vega Series and all AMD Ryzen which integrate a Radeon Graphics solution were compatible from the outset with FidelityFX Super Resolution.
AMD has gone even further, since its technology is also compatible with Nvidia GeForce of recent years. AMD even demonstrated with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.
Finally, AMD did not explicitly announce onstage compatibility with PS5 and Xbox Series X and S. However, nothing prevents consoles, which also use Radeon RDNA 2 hardware, from integrating this technology. As a reminder, the new Xbox already offer the suite of FidelityFX technologies to developers. It is hard to imagine Sony and Microsoft going without a good performance improvement if the technology proves its worth.
What is the impact of FidelityFX Super Resolution on picture quality?
This is the big question that must not be forgotten. With DLSS, Nvidia has demonstrated that its technology makes it possible to create an image as beautiful as the image in native definition, or even on certain titles, to produce a better image than the native definition. It is now up to AMD to do the same demonstration.
Impossible to be sure with the simple images advanced by AMD. First, because the brand has necessarily chosen the images that best suit its solution, but also because we only have a YouTube stream to put our teeth into. A stream by definition very compressed. On the first images shown, activating FSR in “Ultra Quality” mode seems to show a drop in image quality, but it is too early for a definitive opinion.
What is the real benefit of FidelityFX Super Resolution in games?
This is ultimately the most important question. We will have to wait for the tests to find out more. It is on this occasion that we will be able to test the cost in image quality and performance of this technology and the final real gain in terms of image fluidity.
If it keeps its promises, especially with support for next-gen consoles, AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution could become a mainstay of video games in the years to come.